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Non league Saturday match previews
ROB Swaine is pushing for a recall for Billericay Town's home game with Weston-super-Mare in the Conference South tomorrow.
The skipper was on the bench for Tuesday’s abandoned game at Dover after sitting out Saturday’s win over Havent & Waterlooville through suspension.
New recruit Alton Thelwell has immediately struck up a good partnership alongside Chris Wild in central defence, and they’ll be hoping to keep their spots ahead of Swaine and new signing Sulaimen Bangura.
There’s also healthy competition in attack, with last season’s top scorer Jay May – who returned from injury as a late sub against Havant – battling for a starting place against current front two, Alex Osborn and Charlie Taylor.
Billericay owner Grant Gordon admits it’s a nice problem for manager Craig Edwards to have.
“We’re getting to the stage where we’ve got quality in the squad over quantity, and that’s what we want,” he said.
“Rob Swaine and Jay May were two of the main men last season, but now they know we have healthy competition for places.
“Everyone wants to be in the team, of course, and that’s the way it should be. And it is the way we must be if we want to be competitive at this level.”
Midfielder Duran Reynolds has returned to parent club Dagenham & Redbridge, though, after his loan spell at New Lodge.
And Gordon says they’d like to add another player to the squad to compete with Glenn Poole – captain against Dover in the absence of Swaine – and Craig Edwards Jnr in central midfield.
In recent weeks Town have allowed Rich Halle to dual sign with Great Wakering to get some game time, and sold striker Courtney White to Cheshunt.
Goalkeeper Dale Brightly has moved on, and right-back Greg Oates revealed on his Twitter account this week he’s leaving.
On Weston, Gordon said: “At the moment everyone in the team knows they have to put a shift in to keep their place, and that’s paying dividends.
“I think we are fourth in the form table and our home form has been good. But Weston are a place above us in that form table and they had a good win against Basingstoke last week, so we won’t be taking anything for granted – we never do.”
Billericay’s game with Dover was abandoned because of floodlight failure and will be re-scheduled for a future date.
East Thurrock will be looking to recover from a fortnight of cup heartache when they return to Ryman Premier action at home to league leaders Hampton & Richmond.
The Rocks exited the FA Trophy in a replay defeat to derby rivals Thurrock on Tuesday, a week after going out of the FA Cup on penalties to Chelmsford.
But their league form has been good with two wins and three draws from their last five.
Hampton boasted the last unbeaten Ryman Premier record before Wealdstone came from 2-0 down against them on Monday to win 3-2 at Grosvenor Vale.
Despite the defeat Hampton remained top; Rocks start the weekend in 12th.
Concord Rangers could be boosted by the return of influential left winger Reece Harris ahead of their trip to Harrow.
Manager Danny Cowley said: “He’s had a niggly knee injury, and he was playing with it and it was affecting his form.
“The best option was for him to take some time out for rehab, and that’s what we’ve done. “Hopefully now he’ll come back 100 per cent, because Reece Harris, fully fit, is a fantastic player.”
Steve King’s suspension could leave the Beachboys with a problem in central defence, though.
King will serve a one-match ban for his red card against Cray, and Cowley admits it could leave them short at the back.
He said: “We’re in talks with a couple of centre halves, but it is an area where we’re short since we lost Lee White, because he provided cover there. “We have a very small squad, which works well for us in terms of team spirit, but it brings its own challenges.
“But we have options: Danny Glozier can play at centre half, and so can James White, so we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
Harrow Borough are 11th in the Ryman Premier, and Cowley said he’s looking for a good response to Saturday’s FA Trophy exit against Enfield.
Cowley said: “Harrow have had a bit of a rest but played a friendly on Monday and won 6-0 against Potters Bar.
“And in Dave Anderson they have someone who’s managed at the top of the non-league game.
“His sides are always hard to beat; they’ll have plenty of pace and plenty of attacking flair, so we need to be ready to combat that and impose ourselves.”
Canvey Island will look to continue their excellent run of form when they host Enfield Town in the Ryman Premier.
The Gulls have won four of their last five games, drawing the other, and scored 19 goals in the process.
Their latest success was an FA Trophy replay win over a visiting Uxbridge side on Tuesday night.
Tomorrow they host an Enfield side who won on their last visit to the island seven days ago – a 2-0 FA Trophy success at Concord.
Canvey manager Steve Tilson said: “I think this game will be about attitude and keeping that bit of consistency we’ve had of late. It’s a case of not going out and resting on our laurels, but putting in another good performance and making sure our attitude is right – that’s all I can ask for.”
And there are two intriguing derbies in the Essex Senior League.
League leaders Great Wakering host Bowers & Pitsea, while Southend Manor are at home to Hullbridge Sports.
Things are looking good for Rovers: they’re unbeaten in six league games and went top with a 3-1 win at London APSA, with new signing Danny Heale getting a debut goal.
Bowers suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat at second-from-bottom Clapton this week, and start the weekend in 14th in the division.
Manor enjoyed a 4-1 win at home to Sporting Bengal on Saturday, and Sports come into the game on the back of a thrilling penalties win over Heybridge Swifts in the county cup.
Basildon United’s new management team suffered a comprehensive defeat by Tilbury in the county cup this week, but it was a weakened Bees side.
And Basildon joint managers Chris Auger and John Hind will be looking for a positive result when they host London APSA tomorrow.
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